Vaucluse (84330) Population: 2,640 Altitude: 185 m
Caromb is an ancient fortified village (or small town, with over 2400 inhabitants), built on a low hill on the plains south of the Ventoux mountains. The old village has narrow streets, with many vaulted passageways tunneling beneath the buildings. Market day Tue.
The village is old and neat, with an open, sunny Provençal feeling. The buildings are well restored and lived-in. The wide central area includes a large, old café that's obviously a social center, with the entire age spectrum of the population mingling in friendly discussion and argument.
A tall, round tower in the heart of the old village is the ancient watch tower, intended to warn the inhabitants of danger, such as invasions. The tower was built in 1562, and extended upward in 1625. In the 18th century the inhabitants complained that they couldn't hear the warning bells, so another extension was added in 1787, topped by a beautiful wrought-iron belfry (campanile), one of the nicest we've seen (photo). A café has [had] its terrace tables sitting in the very lovely square below the tower. [On a recent visit in June 2013 the café was no longer there.]
The old church in the center of the village is magnificent. It's built with beautiful, wind-worn sandstone, and steadied by buttresses and flying buttresses.
The unique bell tower is a large hexagon, with a differently sized bells in each of the eight high arches.
The bell tower is supposedly "incomplete"; perhaps the lack of a long-ago planned higher extension gives the bell tower the thick, wide appearance.
Fountains of Caromb
There are at least 14 old fountains in Caromb, many from the 18th and 19th centuries. In fact, an interesting way to explore the old village would be for a "theme" walk to discover each of the fountains.
The oldest fountain (this photo) is the 1369 Fontaine du Chateau. It's located on the small square, Place du Chateau, in front of the Office de Tourisme. This fountain is also one of the oldest in this part of Provence, called the Comtat Venaissin; it was restored in 1749 and 1960.
The main purpose of the fountain was as a watering place for animals. Around the edge of the fountain's basin you can see small iron barbs. These were intended to tear any cloth dragged across them, and thus prevent women from washing their laundry and dirtying the water with soap.
The most popular fountain in the village is no doubt the Fountain du Portail du Rieu, at the main road in the village and in front of the Medieval entry, and especially popular with the many cyclists. The original fountain was built in 1379. In 1840 the monumental obelisque was added to the top. With the advent of "modern" automobiles, the fountain was torn down in 1933 to enlarge the road junction. In 1987, the fountain was rebuilt in the image of the original, and we're back where we started seven centuries ago.
Chateau and Tourist Office
Caromb's original 12th-century castle is so far gone that no trace remains, and even its exact location can't be determined. Etienne de Vesc, who became the lord of Caromb in 1484, built an imposing Renaissance chateau-fortress. He went off to war in Italy and died of fever. His descendants lived in the chateau until 1789, when the last owner sold it off bit by bit.
Today almost nothing remains. You can see some of the vaulted rooms of the old chateau inside the tourist office on the Place du Chateau.
History of Caromb
First record, 13th century Castrum Carumbo. The name Caromb comes from "Quairoun" which is Provençal for "carved stone"; there are large quarries nearby.
Gallo-Roman: artifacts include a statue of Apollo.
Medieval: ruled by the Lords of Baux until the 15th century, when it changed rulers a few times. The chateau was destroyed once in 1562 during the Wars of Religion and then razed in 1792 during the Revolution. In 1762 a regional irrigation system was built, with a dam at Paty, 2 km north, creating an artificial lake that's still used today.
Market day: Tue.
Apr - Fête champêtre, Lac du Paty
May - Cherry Market, daily in May
Sep (next-to-last Sun) - Fête communale
• GPS: 44.111189, 5.106613
IGN (1/25,000) #3040 ET "Carpantras, Vaison-la-Romaine"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #27 "Ventoux"
The village of Caromb sits in the midst of vineyards about a km south of the woods on the southern border of the Ventoux and Dentelles mountains.
• Walks from the village follow the roads through the vineyards and orchards of the region.
• A couple of marked trails branch off from roads north and northeast of Caromb to go through the woods up onto the slopes of the Ventoux mountains, eventually connecting with the GR91 (Grande Randonnée).
Caromb is in the region of the Rhône Valley Côtes de Ventoux wines. Some of the nearby renowned wines are Beaumes-de-Venise, Gigondas and Vacqueyras. (see Rhone Wines)
Department 84, Vaucluse Buses
- See Beyond's Bus Schedules Page 2: Vaucluse Department for downloading Vaucluse bus-lines map [Plan global des lignes] and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).
• Avignon has train or bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Nîmes, Saint Remy-de-Provence, Paris.
• Cavaillon has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Saint Remy-de-Provence.
• Pertuis has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.